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December 22, 2009


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Great post, smocking is a new topic for me. But doesn't this dress look Edwardian, not 1890s?

FIDM Museum

Hi Alaina,

Dating Liberty garments can be tricky because the company re-used silhouettes and design motifs throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The curatorial staff dated this garment to 1893-7 primarily due to its construction techniques. During the 1890s, Liberty employed twill tapes sewn inside the bodice to control the smocking and bust fullness. We compared this dress with its inner tapes to an 1890s Liberty blouse and the construction technique was identical. The sleeves, with their elongated fullness, are very 1890s for Liberty. The saturated, bright pink color is more in line with an 1890s aesthetic than an Edwardian one, when Liberty tended to use more pastels. We are unaware of any published, comprehensive studies of Liberty of London garments and would love to learn more-do you have any recommendations?

Becky D

Kate Greenaway...sigh. LOVE her drawings. Now when I see them, I will look for smocking!

FIDM Museum

Becky, be sure to check archive.org for Kate Greenaway illustrations. They have many of her books scanned into their site. It's different than actually holding them in your hand, but still very interesting!


Hi, I'm curious about the construction of this garment as all the seam lines seem to be extremely well- hidden. How would a garment such as this have been constructed and at what stage in the process would the smocking have been added?

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